Home Hack: Secret to Cleaning Red Wine Stains from White Clothing Using Dishwashing Detergent

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This post will be a little unusual for us!

I don’t normally drink wine but when the snow fell last week my friends and I decided to stay in, rent a redbox, and share a bottle of red.

No sooner did I pop the cork than I had a red wine stain on one of my favorite white sweaters. I know!

You don’t need to rub it in! It was stupid to wear a favorite white sweater and start drinking red wine, I get it!

Anyway, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to share one of my favorite tips with my blog readers: sometimes the best laundry detergent to remove a stain is actually dishwashing detergent.

It’s very common advice to tell people to rub salt into red wine stains. It works because salt is a fine-grained scouring agent. But when you use salt to scrub a stain out of white clothing you have to follow it up with dish soap or laundry detergent.

I find that if you replace the salt with dishwashing detergent you can get the job done in one step instead of several.

Step 1: Get to it right away! Red wine will permanently stain cloth fibers if it seeps into them for too long, especially if it has a chance to dry. So be sure to attack red wine spills as they happen instead of waiting until it’s too late.

Step 2: Blot excess wine from the spill with a cloth or paper towel by patting it down with medium pressure. Try not to rub or you may just rub the wine further into the fibers instead up wicking it up and away.

Step 3: Make sure the fabric is color safe. Dishwashing detergent is a really effective stain lifter but it may also lift some of the color out of your fabrics. It may not matter if it would be ruined by wine otherwise, but I don’t want you blaming me if this fades the color on your tablecloths.

Step 4: Sprinkle automatic dishwasher detergent over the stained area, rub in, and let it sit for 1-3 minutes.

Step 5: Pour water over the stain (if you can pour it from 5-8 inches away it should have the force to push the wine out of the fabric) and blot with a cloth again. I like using my kitchen sink hose.

Repeat if necessary.

Some wine stains will actually turn blue when you put dishwashing detergent on them. That’s normal and you can just throw them right in the washing machine at that point.

You can even substitute dishwashing detergent for laundry detergent in your machine and I’ve found it works just fine. I was able to save my sweater, and my friends forgave me for running away to wash my shirt in the middle of a get-together because they were amused by my unusual trick for removing the wine stains: dishwashing detergent!